Elitism Should be Sacrificed

Guest writer Padraig O'Deorain with a piece on a fragmented republicanism written on Easter Monday.

In 1916, the men of Ireland, the bravest of Irish men, took on the might of the British Empire on the streets of Dublin. Had it not been for the divisive tactics of Eoin MacNeill it is safe to say that, whilst victory might still have been out of their grasp, the collective force that would have assembled would have caused more damage to the British Establishment in Ireland. This year marks the 97th Anniversary of the Rising.

In 3 years time, we will mark 100 years since the Proclaimation of the Irish Republic, the establishment of which we have yet to see realised. All over Ireland, Republicans assembled to commemorate the dead, those who found victory in their defeat. Those who stood bravely against tyranny, and lost physically, but achieved immortality in the psyche of the Irish people, in the annals of Ireland's history.

One remarkable aspect of the Republican Rising of 1916 was how it had managed to foster the appetite of all the Irish people for freedom and helped to create a cross section in which Republicanism could thrive. Much like any art form, it's greatest manifestation came in hindsight.

The greatest victory of the men of 16 was the unity that came over the course of that week. Connolly and the ICA stood shoulder to shoulder with the IRB and the Irish volunteers. The common enemy transcended the conflicts which had kept Republicanism disjointed and had rendered it mere folly.

Much of this credit must be given to the work of the IRB. The egalitarian set up became one of the key features of the IRA from 1917 to 1921. Since the split of '22, we have yet to see an organisation create such egalitarian unity.

The proof of this point came on the streets of Ireland at yesterday. Over the island, Republicans gathered to remember the sacrifice of these men, and every Irish man, woman or child who died fighting to achieve Irish liberation. Many parties and groups chose to hold their own functions. But how fitting is it to hold seperate functions?

Whilst I have not read each of the singular Republican groupings Easter speeches, much is my apathy towards the internecine "Cold War" fueding between republicans in this day and age, I can guarantee that like every year, there will be a call for Republican unity. There is always a call for Unity. However, its becoming more and more clear that the words mean nothing. Egos, personality clashes and animosity between individuals have rendered the concept of Republican unity moribund.

In 2016, it would be a fitting tribute to the men of the Rising for all the groups to come together under the banner of their name and commemorate the proclamation. Much like how in the years leading to the Rising, we should be able to put aside animosities and come together, not to score political points, not to create an image to garner fear and respect from the Irish people. Much like in '16, elitism should be sacrificed for egality, fueding for fraternity, stupidity for solidarity.

Surely, we can put aside our small differences in the name of our massive common ground. Surely.


  1. Padraig,

    I agree with David. It was a very good piece.

  2. Padraig,
    Wanted to scream from start to half way down when I seen you finally mentioned women along with the children. What gets me about this particular period is, most of the women who fought in 1916 remained totally anti-treaty and as equally engaged as the men. The male language and the very thought of uniting anywhere with Adams and Co in 2016 or any other time, assuming you are including Sinn Fein as Republicans ( apologies if you are not ) put me off the piece, sorry.

  3. That is an interesting take Nuala. I never looked at it with that angle in mind. Now you have me thinking. Glad all the same to carry the piece

  4. Mackers,
    Of course! Padraig is perfectly entitled to his opinion.

  5. Padraig definitely a piece which should strike a cord in the hearts of many Republicans.

    I believe we have the combined strength to create a threat to the Northern Statelet but we must realise that this strength lies foremost in unity. In order to create such unity we must resolve what divides us first and foremost.

    In my opinion it is the desire to continue with armed struggle especially at a time when it is used by our enemies as a bogeyman while they attack our people through cuts etc.

    This is the opportune time to unite and take them on in such a way that can undermine those which govern on behalf of the Brits without joining them in that place where they govern. We don't need guns nor bombs to do this nor do we need to stand in elections.

    In short can you image the numbers which took to the streets of Derry on the anniversary of Bloody Sunday past? Those were the banners of all shades of Republicanism marching together as one.

    Can you imagine if we were able to gather those Republicans to march against the attacks of the Tory party and their agents in Stormont on our people?

    I'm certain that before long Republicans would be joined on the streets by the people themselves.

  6. Dixie,
    8 beers a nite waychin soccer, and i'm thinkin lookin at the modern world does 'republican' mea anything?

    1690 et al.

    maghabery? cant wait

  7. Good piece. Maybe they should read the Proclamation at such an anniversary and nothing else? It is as appropriate as it is timeless and it would prevent the bickering over who speaks and for how long and from what political viewpoint.

    But you couldn't exclude anybody as that would defeat the whole idea.

  8. Nuala,

    I never read the article as inclusive of SF for tthe reason that when the term 'republican' is mentioned I instinctively don't think of SF. Just the same way I would never think of the Free Presbyterian Church when people refer to 'Catholic'. You saw for the possibility of it being something else and I think you could be right. Perhaps Padraig did feel that unity should include SF. I guess only he can explain but it was worthwhile you having pointed it out. And as you say, agree with us or not, he is entitled to his viewpoint.

    I do find that more people just naturally assume SF not to be republican. Saying the party is not republican is no longer a conscious denying of legitimacy but just an observation of how people see the world.

  9. Mackers
    You are probably right but I automatically thought of them. Already people are bracing themselves for a green white and orange City Hall and may be a disguised tricolour for 2016, can't see Sinn Fein producing much more than that.

  10. Nuala,

    maybe Gibney or Hartley will run to the master with a proposal to disguise it as a Union Jack. We could then watch them all waving their wee red white and blue tricolours along the Falls and looking at you as if you had two heads for raising eybrows.

  11. Padraig.

    Excellent piece.

    This part is so true.

    much is my apathy towards the internecine "Cold War" fueding between republicans in this day and age, I can guarantee that like every year, there will be a call for Republican unity. There is always a call for Unity. However, its becoming more and more clear that the words mean nothing. Egos, personality clashes and animosity between individuals have rendered the concept of Republican unity moribund.

    to me, PSF want to be at the forefront of everything, Just to pretend that they are Republicans , They are sitting in a British Carsonite Building on the hill, imposing British Cuts and rule on everyone, They have no right to be called Republicans anymore, They have Broken more rules than anyone in History to get there own way of ruling for the British, Yet, within there ranks are Anti treaty Republicans just waiting to be told the way PSF have lied through there teeth to get what they wanted, Rule for the British, Taught by the British. Personalities should be set aside by all Republican Groups to put together a statement stating PSF are now classed as NON REPUBLICANS because they are administering British Laws From A British Parliament.

  12. itsjustmacker- " Personalities should be set aside by all Republican Groups to put together a statement stating PSF are now classed as NON REPUBLICANS because they are administering British Laws From A British Parliament."

    I don't think participating in the partitioned assembly should bar you from being a Republican. If it did then no Republican could participate in it. Are we all to wait for a United Ireland before we can participate in government?

    However, I accept your point about the mismanagement of devolved powers including your example of the acceptance and imposition of cuts in a ham-fisted manner.

  13. Mackers,
    They have dressed up and disguised everything else so why not the National flag. Both of those fore mentioned would be waving union jacks if the Master gave the order.

  14. If it was,nt so fucking sad the sight of quisling $inn £ein vying with the dregs of the sticks,ff,fg,for the mantle of true republican successors of the volunteers of 1916 would be hilarious and even funnier will be the applications for commemoration grants from the true owners of the country i,e, the wankers of Brussels,the biggest slap on the beak that republicans can give these hypocrites is a solid single unified display of solidarity which in turn would I,m sure shake the foundations of this state to the core and the Brits would be given a clear message that divide and conquer as a tactic no longer works in this part of the world, but as Padraig rightly says egos etc may and probably will make this just wishful thinking.

  15. It will be interesting 2016, how it goes. No doubt all republican grouping will be in attendence, claiming and counter claiming they are the true republican inheriters of the men and women of 16. I firmly beleive the republicanism is far to big for one organisation to claim to be the sole inheritors. Republican maybe should be looked at as a tradition, and with all traditions, it has evolved. The loyalists do a bloody good job hold on to theirs as far as I can see, it will be interesting what 2016 brings and who tries to commander it. I will at the GPO, and if I have to stand alone without being labelled with association, so be it.....

  16. Nuala,

    for sure they would do it. And would not be alone. And would call you traitor for not doing likewise.


    I think it is a strategic question about participating in parliaments. But to me there can be no question of a republican becoming part of a the British government administration in the North. And in the South it could only be part of a left government not one of these coalitions with the right

  17. Padraig does raise some very valid points many of the concerns intimated through his article reflect personal feelings that I hold dear in my own belief. How fitting is it to hold separate functions?

    A lot of it comes down to the perception of what is a republican? Should I stand shoulder to shoulder with those who would call republicans, criminals, and traitors? Should I stand beside those who during the civil war murdered their countrymen and former comrades, or those who gunned down Joseph O’Connor in Belfast? Those who actively support the internment of our citizens, those who promote the use of informers by the British secret services?

    Would former comrades feel comfortable standing beside me knowing I detest their partitionist and Stalinist position with every fibre of my being? Something I would probably best describe as ex-smoker syndrome. Would former comrades feel comfortable standing beside me knowing I was duped by the Sinn Fein leadership for so long? A sad reality is there are people I know a lifetime who have not spoken to me since 86. Is this a microcosm of the wider picture?

    What I do know is that I would stand proudly with any group who not only wish to commemorate the sacrifice of all those who died in the cause of national freedom, but will continue to affirm the rights of the Irish people to national sovereignty as laid down by Tone, as laid down by the men of 16 and enshrined in the Proclamation of the Irish Republic.

    Sadly for me that does not include those who administer British rule in Ireland, or those who criminalise republicans and happily legitimize the occupation of the six counties.

    And if I was to go a step further and refer to SF’s comedy duo the ‘two Gerry’s’, Messers Kelly and Adams who both stated that there is only one IRA I would presume that they mean the ‘provos’ a splinter group and could infer from this, that they do not recognise the men of the IRA from the 20’s, from the 40’5 from the 50’s…

    Sure there was only one IRA the good old one that only one of the Gerry’s was a member of.


  18. I agree with Anthony's analysis, Sinn Fein are no longer a republican party - at least no more than the like of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael or even the SDLP. In terms of the national question they are basically all a mirror image of the other, separated by degrees rather than clear blue water. The defining characteristics of Sinn Fein republicanism are now more in sync with Mansergh and Hume than Connolly or Pearse. But that doesn't preclude the fact that many Sinn Fein members and activists should rightly be considered as republicans. Plenty remain onboard because of long-held loyalties - both to personalities at a local level and to the wider organisation itself. Also when the IRA was 'disbanded', at the time of the Seanna Walsh read statement, it's leadership asked people to turn their energies to Sinn Fein. For many republicans it's hard to walk away as a result, though of course the numbers doing so are increasing all the time as the logic of where it's ended up inexorably bears down on us and them. We must convince others that the time is right to begin charting another course alongside those of us already gone. Such are the people we should seek unity with and of course among ourselves - not the likes of Declan Kearney or his ilk. Their failed leadership should not be entertained in the slightest.

    It's incumbent on us, as we've been discussing the last few days, to give people some form of credible republican alternative they can give allegiance to, obviously this should be based on republican principles first and foremost. The only place I can see this worth starting from is Anthony's assertion yesterday in another thread that a disassociation from administering British rule has to be the bottom line. Everything after that should be on the table for discussion and debate whether it fits our own ideological position or not. It's only through having such a discussion that any notion of a united republican movement can be anything more than that, a grand notion in our heads but something beyond the practicalities of overcoming the numerous side-issues that divide us. I feel some form of unity is definitely on the agenda, the conversations of the last few days are very encouraging. I just hope the ball is rolling and things start to gather pace. Roll on the Brendan Hughes Memorial Lecture, as many of us as possible should be there to further just such a process

  19. Really enjoyed this becuase it expresses the sentiment that many Republicans are feeling with the shambolic state of affairs that exist on both sides of the PARTITIONIST line.. However, I do think the current shenagians are the final acts being played out of where some elements within the PIRA were heading prior to ceasefire. The 'ceasefire' itself was just a stop gap in effect. A culmination of ppl getting fed up with the 'long war' strategy, the demands of a secular society in favour of patriotism, infiltration of the movement coupled with techno military/surveillance advances seriously curtailed PIRA military ops etc. For example, Sth Armagh brigades were reduced to long range sniper attacks .. The PIRA in effect got an 'honourable' discharge and the meaningless 'undefeated' tag was adopted to gloss over the stale mate scenario that had developed. One can only assume the the probable attitude of the Army Council at the time of calling a ceasefire was to choose to live to fight another day',but then where does that leave the act of decommissioning ???As for 2016 and any hopes of a United front will only be achievable if all those involved agree to stop putting the cart before the horse etc gain Ireland it's freedom and then sort out the personal agendas, recriminations and school yard pettiness afterwards!!

  20. simon:

    I don't think participating in the partitioned assembly should bar you from being a Republican. If it did then no Republican could participate in it.

    Simon, its against proper Republican rules to sit in any British Statelet run Parliament, as is the same for Leinster House. From the 1986 Ard-Fheis under RESOLUTION 162 , Adams/Mc Guinness and Co, Manipulated the majority to vote for changing the rules to allow them to sit in stormont and Leinster House, but, this was on the cards since 1974, also ,"With the Ballot Box In one hand and Armalite in the other", even at that stage they knew weapons would be decommissioned , It was one big well prepared plan , helped by the British.

  21. Itsjustmacker,

    republican activists today are hardly going to be held back by the traditional republican reasoning. Many republicans have a left wing perspective and things like Leinster House and Stormont will be viewed tactically and strategically by them. Republicanism has to move in some sort of Gramscian sense to position itself. The tide of abstentionism is out and unless it comes in again republicanism will be cut adrift. A key strategic question for republicanism is how far can it stretch within an oppositional paradigm while at the same time avoiding losing that radical conscience that would simply leave it ending up like SF or the Labour Party down here.

  22. itsjustmacker- I see abstentionism more as a tenet than a hard and fast rule. More of a principle and belief that can be changed without undermining the essence of Republicanism. Republicanism has been around, as you know, since the 1790s. Abstentionism has been around for less than half this time. I realise this is because partition only happened in 1920 but there are more central and vital tenets than abstentionism. Like equality, non-sectarianism, self-determination. These may be able to be better achieved through ending abstentionism. Otherwise who will shape Ireland North and South until it's united? Unionists and right wing or corrupt parties? That will only make unity less achievable.

    When abstentionism was first a policy I would hazzard a guess the policy-makers didn't think partition would have lasted 100 years or more.

    Although, I can see the symbolism and change in culture that would happen if this part of Ireland was governed in part by Republicans at Westminster. Ruling Ireland from England would have too much of a negative effect to be attempted. I realise that this is also Abstentionism but as I said more a principle than a rule.

    Pragmatism can work with ideology to bring about change.

  23. Abstentionism has been a form of taking a 'principled' Republican stand against British interference in Irish affairs. Ruairi Ó'Brádaigh was ousted from the PSF leadership because the young guns (MMcG & GA) in their wisdom felt it was a major barrier in achieving the Holy Grail of Irish unity. If we chart the progress of PSF and RSF in the years since the '86 split then we can gain a valuable insight into the pros and cons of abstentionism. The origins of RSF are very much stepped in traditional Republican values which is in stark contrast to PSF's agenda to modernise Republicanism. They adopted the attitude that to change the system you had to do so from within. However, there is one major problem with this tactic in that by becoming part of the system then you end up acepting more and more elements of it and before you realise it you become part of the evry system you are trying to change. This is clearly evident today in what comes accross as PSF's 'á la carte' Republicanism. On the other hand RSF have remained true to their ideological values but have sacrificed their connection with the people by their inability to affect change. Their stance of standing outside the box has left them increasingly isolated in Ireland's secular society where patriotism has been replaced by self-serving attitudes. I think this descent and a fear of becoming irrelevant has been at the root of the various splits since the departure of O'Brádaigh. The big question is has the risks associated with attempting to modernise Republicanism by PSF actually made any tangible progress towards a United Ireland?? They are effectively part & parcel of the political machine either side of the Partitionist border. To achieve this political parity of asteem they have effectively cut all ties with their militant roots. No more so than in the O6C where they effectively administer British rule via Stormont. In the 26 they are in opposition, and have found themselves flavour of the month by feeding of the tide of disgruntlement. This has prooved highly successful for the Lib Dem's in the UK and culminated in them going into coalition. UKIP are now adopting the same strategy which again is prooving to be highly effective. But as the Lib dem's are learning the hard way, it's one thing being in opposition , it's an entirely different scenario being in government. Their manifesto promises that got them elected are now more or less defunct. Like the Lib Dem's. PSF are basically ineffective at effecting change in the 06C despite their protestations to the contrary and if they were to power share in the 26 who is too say they would not turn out to be just as inept given that the EU is in effective control. In essence, are the polar opposite strategies of RSF or PSF any closer to achieving Irish Unity???

  24. Fenian " In essence, are the polar opposite strategies of RSF or PSF any closer to achieving Irish Unity???"

    You've got a point. Maybe having an all-inclusive Easter Commemoration including all opposing political viewpoints may be a possible step towards unity of purpose if not strategy and a mobilisation of popular support?

    I suppose you would need a sea change in opinion, action and support throughout Irish politics to get anywhere close to having a popular, practical adherence to the ideals of the Proclamation.

    We are so far removed culturally from the participants in the Rising that we are in danger of Capitalism, Partition and inequality becoming entrenched to the extent that they'll become irreversible.

  25. Exactly the goals of the British state in Ireland Simon whether those who assist the process realise it or not

  26. Simon
    Pre-GFA the biggest political issue on the Island(S) of Ireland was the proverbial thorn in the side of the British/Irish governments, the 06C. However, the global economic crisis put the relatively wealthy and politically stable 26 counties into a tail spin. It is ironic that now more than ever the socio-economic grounds exist for the formation of a NEW 32 County Republic as the centenary looms. But the million dollar question is HOW?? The 26 counties is but a Republic in name and the O6C are still classed as the problem child with serious ADH! Since GFA, both governments have relied on the prescription of throwing monies at it to keep it from throwing tantrums. A coherent re-unification strategy must involve a 32 county approach and facilitate the broad spectrum of political thinking that exists. To try and start to achieve this, one of the biggest obstacles to be overcome will be to convince the majority of the population in 26 counties feel that their is a socio-economic and political benefit to having the 6 re-united and put an end to the outta sight outta mind attitude! In 1916, Irish patriotism was the carrot to rally the people. Sadly in our brave new world Irish patriotism is a distant ideal and a new set of founding principles must be found to re-energise the peoples and bring Irish re-unification to the fore!

  27. Agree with the broadest part of that Fenian but I reckon patriotism still has an influence over the people here and is to be ignored at our peril. I was in Clonmany recently for a weekend and subtly canvassed a few opinions on a united Ireland. The response I got suggested not only that people hadn't forgotten the North but that they were willing to actively engage on the issue if only something were there for them to tie into - a clear illustration of how all the establishment parties, including Sinn Fein, have failed to offer this. This could be as much a part of the problem as the apathy you allude to. Likewise I was in Killarney last summer for the Tyrone/Kerry All-Ireland football qualifier and found similar sentiment. I recall in the bars after the game that night a lot of Kerry folk I spoke to mentioned the Hunger Strikes and enquired would me and my wife be going to the National Commemoration coming up at the time in Dungiven. Yeah it was a Sinn Fein event but that's neither here nor there; the fact they were aware of and willing to discuss it to begin with suggests to me that republicanism is still something relevant to the lives of ordinary people all around this country.

    The challenge as I see it is to rebuild a republican movement capable of attracting the active support of such people. Perhaps their apathy on the national question is more to do with its absence from the agenda of the establishment parties than any lapse in the patriotic spirit of the Irish people. Just a thought not really a criticism, the rest I'm basically in full agreement with. I think republicanism can still be relevant and can still provide solutions without reinventing the wheel

  28. Fenian
    "The origins of RSF are very much stepped in traditional Republican values which is in stark contrast to PSF's agenda to modernise Republicanism. They adopted the attitude that to change the system you had to do so from within".

    Fenian, in my opinion, I believe you have better chance of tearing the factory down brick by brick if you are: 1. Willing to go inside 2Ready to engage with the status Quo. The OIRA political wing republican clubs- SF Workers Party were the first to go this route and it certainly was not from a right wing perspective. So when it is commented that PSF went stick, yeah on a political route, but that is where the similarity abruptly ends. This is Factual history, no spin. The other difference is that for me PSF wanted to be the status Quo. For example, PSF really did not want to change the actual British style political, economic and social system because they simply had all the attributes, skills and determination to become a "champion" of the system due to their right wing political ideology from their leadership and many grass route supporters start. It was all so naïve,lets free Ireland first, and then what type of system would you get, well the one you are getting now. It should be no shock. RSF traditionalists, share the same ideology and mindset. To challenge the pro right system of the free state and the North on a radical perspective it simply has to be from a left perspective, or you will end up like PSF, FF, "replacing old wine in new bottles". If people have a problem with the left perspective, they should consider left wing parties as diffidently being in the interests of WC people like me and not in people before profit. Maybe the left should reconsider a new positively branded party entitled " The Quality of Life Party". It is hard to place a distasteful "Folk Devil Left" branding on this by many of the right wing apparatus such as the media, church, education and business establishment. The left do not want to brainwash you, your children, steal you homes, enslave you in labour, or take away your quality of life. Austerity today is doing that today administrated from where Tory led stormount and the SF/DUP and every other MLA in the place. Self serving protection is in place up on the hill. It isn't politics for the people these days it is business for the politics, politics for the business- double speak. Stage management, theatre, professional lying and down right no truth and half truths all sugarcoated with shinny buzz words, slogans, visions, and ethos. Simon illustrates this: "We are so far removed culturally from the participants in the Rising that we are in danger of Capitalism, Partition and inequality becoming entrenched to the extent that they'll become irreversible".
    I could not agree more. I simply couldn't. The word floating about is that PSF are looking for a all out parade on Easter Sundays due to their lowering by the year attendance. A little sneaky, sure you just have to look at the way they take over St Patricks day parades the length and breath of the North. Their political representatives are the first of the parade it could be refereed to them "taking point" in military terms. I made a point of walking along side them last year, just a foot step ahead and it was like, who in the name of f..ck does this guy think he is". I enjoyed it, for the craic and done it with a smile as wide as a crocodile and swagger. lol.

  29. Picking holes here...But could posters separate their comments into paragraphs with a gap between them as it makes for easier reading, especially the long ones.

  30. Just for talk sake..If the SF/PRM leadership held an Ard fheis/Special Convention and admitted that they were wrong for not telling republicans that they had entered into 'peace talk's' in 1987/8. And that the GFA was the best they could salavage out of a very bad situtation of their making. Would most republicans accept their apology and go back to SF/PRM or is there too much water under the bridge, too many burnt on both sides to even think about rejoing the PRM/SF..

  31. Frankie,

    if it is republicanism rather than SF lying that is the demarcation line then SF fessing upto its deception would hardly remove that line or blur it. So I don't see how republicans could go back to a very non-republican project. It might however ease tensions.

  32. Today, I know Irish republicans were lied to. I personally don't understand republicanism. I understand Irish self determination, nationalism ....I understand what socialism means. But I look at France ( a republic, with a socialist gov.) and Hollandes aides are found with private Swiss bank accounts, while calling for accountability...courrupt police, poverty, high taxes....( sounds like back home in a different accent!!)

    What makes someone a republican? is it simply not wanting to live under a monarchy..?

  33. Frankie, try this for a flavour. It was, I think, the first article to appear on the Pensive Quill